Friday, December 4, 2015

TB Alliance, WHO Launch Child-friendly Tuberculosis Medication

The fruit-flavoured medication dissolves in water within few minutes

The fruit-flavoured medication dissolves in water within few minutes
TB Alliance, the World Health Organisation and its partners have launched the first ever child-friendly tuberculosis medicines .

 President and Chief Executive Officer of TB Alliance, an international non-profit organisation, Dr. Mel Spigelman, made this announcement at a press briefing at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

 The fruit-flavoured TB doses is going to save over 1,000,000 children with drug sensitive tuberculosis.

The improved treatments are the first to meet the dosage guidelines set by the World Health Organisation in 2010.

 Spigelman stated that the palatable child-friendly medication is provided at a reduced cost of $15.5 for the six months dosage. He added that the drug which was manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical company, Macleods is made available as a result of a project largely funded by UNITAID.

 He noted that countries that are under the Global Drug Facility can access the drugs. According to the WHO, at least one million children become ill with TB each year and 140,000 children die of this curable disease. To date, children around the world have not yet had access to appropriate TB medicines.

 “The availability of correctly dosed medications will improve treatment for children everywhere.This is an important step toward ending the neglect that has characterized the care of children with TB for far too long,” Spigelman added.

Relating her challenges with getting correct treatment for her children,Monique Davids, a mother and care provider from Cape Town, South Africa, said that simpler medicines would improve the health outcome of affected children.

 Davids said, “My three-year old daughter and my newborn son had TB—they were so sick and it was so difficult to give them the medication that I began to lose hope,” said “TB is already such a long struggle for families; with these new simpler medicines, at least the treatment doesn’t have to be such an ordeal anymore.”

Tuberculosis ranks as the world’s leading infectious disease killer along with HIV.

 The disease is curable with treatment, which consists of multiple drugs and must be taken for a minimum of six months. Children need different doses of TB medicines than adults. Today, for parents and care providers to approximate the correct dose for a child, they must crush or chop available drugs, and piece together the treatment regimen.

 Splitting TB pills, which gives the medication a bitter taste and usually results in imprecise dosing, makes the treatment journey even more difficult for children and their families. Such challenges can also make treatment less effective, leading to poor health outcomes and the development of more difficult to treat drug-resistant TB in children.

 “No child should die of TB, yet for too long, we have not had the medicines or the functioning market needed to mount a sustainable response against childhood TB,” said Mr. Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of UNITAID. “UNITAID’s investment in addressing this problem will increase access to correctly dosed, quality-assured, affordable TB medicines for children that will help save lives.”

 WHO had revised its guidelines for childhood TB treatment in 2010, recognising that children need higher doses of the medicines than what they were receiving. Lacking incentives and clear market information, companies, however, it did not produce any products conforming to the new guidelines.

 Spigelman added that the organisation is working with WHO, UNICEF, Management Sciences for Health and other organisations to encourage uptake in countries with high TB burdens and to reach children affected by TB at all levels or sectors of healthcare.

 He noted that the Initial roll-out of the new medicines should start in 2016.

 “Childhood TB is a problem that can be solved when we choose to act,” says Dr. Enos Masini, National Tuberculosis Program Manager, Kenya. “We need to make sure all children with TB are diagnosed and treated with the best medicines possible. I’m proud to say Kenya plans to adopt these new products for our children immediately, which will greatly improve our response to treating drug-sensitive TB.”

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